Glycerine For Drying Flowers - Knowledgebase Question

Moorestown, NJ
Question by hwatson
January 11, 2000
I would like to know how to use glycerine for drying flowers (such as statice, baby's breath, etc)., so that they are not so fragile after drying and can be used for dried flower arrangements. Do I put the glycerine in water while the flowers are still fresh? Or do I treat the dried flowers with it? Thank you!

Answer from NGA
January 11, 2000


Unfortunately, many dried flowers simply are fragile by nature. Using flowers in excellent condition and cutting them when well hydrated and drying (and displaying) them out of direct sunlight and away from heat can help keep them in better condition, as can handling them carefully and as little as possible.

Many of the traditionally air-dried flowers such as strawflower, baby's breath and celosia need to be cut in the bud stage because they continue to open while drying. If cut too late they will fall apart. Other flowers need to be cut slightly before peak for the same reason. You really should not need to use anything special on statice, Baby's breath or other typically dried flowers if you have harvested them at the right time.

If you have not tried it yet, you may have success with silica gel (a powder) for some such as carnation, chrysanthemum, dahlia, delphinium, geranium, lark-spur, marigold, rose and zinnia. In this method the flowers are laid flat and covered with the powder which works as a dessicant.

Glycerine is a bit more difficult to work with and not all flowers will absorb it well. (It is usually used for preserving leaves.) If you want to experiment, the entire flower is submerged in it for several weeks using a solution of two parts water and one part glycerine. When the solution has been absorbed, remove the stem and hang it upside down to dry and to allow the solution to penetrate even further into it. Bells of Ireland (Molucella laevisis) are often recommended for beginners learning the technique.

I hope this helps!

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